SCOTLAND’S drug deaths task force has published a strategy aimed at reducing the stigma faced by drug users and their families.

The strategy, published yesterday, calls for a national mission statement – along with ones at a more local level – to be drafted on how stigmatisation will be tackled.

Chaired by Professor Catriona Matheson, of the University of Stirling, the task force was set up a year ago to address the spiralling number of drug deaths across Scotland.

A total of 1187 drug deaths were reported in Scotland in 2018 – the highest on record.

In the past 12 months, the task force has sought evidence on problem drug use but has faced difficulties in engagement due to Covid-19.

An annual report from the task force said engagement with current and former users will now be “re-iignited” as the pandemic begis to slow.

Matheson said Scotland needs to move away from the search for a “mythical, single, magic bullet” and move towards a programme of support and interventions to reduce the number of deaths.

She said: “Since the taskforce first met in September 2019, we have been urgently reviewing evidence of what can best address Scotland’s unique challenge, and putting that evidence in action.

“The annual report details our progress in identifying critical lines of enquiry and actions to take us forward.

“The task force recognises that we all need to get away from a search for a mythical, single, magic bullet and towards a programme of implemented strategies that not only works but engenders a new level of trust, sharing and collaboration in Scotland’s key agencies.

“We believe in positive, sustainable change.”